Evaluating Internet Resources for Classroom Research
Some teachers have their students work only from lists of pre-selected websites. If you have compiled such a list for your students, it is still wise to check the sites before having students access them. Sites often change without notice and just a few moments of your time spent checking the featured websites will help to eliminate those unpleasant surprises. If your students are self-selecting sites, you will want to instruct them in a few basics.
Inform your students that:
- They should stick with reliable search engines. Yahooligans! is a good place to start because its target audience is children.
- Spelling does matter, so your students need to remember to type carefully.
- It helps to be specific when searching for information. The use of quotation marks around the search entry helps to narrow the search. To further narrow a search, students can use words such as “or” and “and” and “not” to further limit the number of hits in their search.
- Just as books are written for particular readers, websites are authored for particular audiences. Students need to make certain that the sites are age appropriate.
- Anyone can have their own webpage, so students should know their sources. Find out who is the author of the website. Is the author reliable, knowledgeable, credible? If so, the information is more likely to be accurate and reliable.
- It is important that the website be updated regularly so as to contain the most up-to-date and accurate information.
- Websites should be user-friendly and accessible, otherwise, students waste valuable time trying to navigate the sites.
- Websites should be well-written and carefully edited.
- Websites should be free from bias. Read carefully. Does the author seem to have a particular agenda in mind?
- Students shouldn’t automatically accept everything they find on the web as fact. Compare websites on the same topic. Do the sites contain the same set of facts and information?
- Practice may not necessarily make perfect, however, the more searches they run, the better they are likely to become at those searches.
If you are interested in obtaining additional information about using the Internet with your students, Yahooligans! has put together a very thorough teacher’s guide on “Teaching Internet Literacy”. The guide includes information on website evaluation and also provides information on how you can teach your students to search for websites on Yahooligans. This information can be accessed at http://www.yahooligans.com/tg/aup.html
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9912078. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.